Father Jeff McBeth
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Father Jeff McBeth

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Date of Ordination:
June 3, 2006

A group of about 10 priests who were involved in youth ministry and did TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreats when he was in high school and college. “[They] made me comfortable with the idea of priesthood, that I could be joining them some day if that was God’s plan.”

Playing the guitar and hanging out with friends. In seminary, started a band called Anathema Sit.

Best thing about priesthood:
Sunday Masses and the interaction they bring with everyone in the parish from those in the nursing home to the kids in school and everyone in between. “It’s really a blessing being able to do a whole bunch of different things with different people in different ways.”


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“Gift and mystery.”

As a student at a Jesuit high school, Father Jeff McBeth would look at men who were going to be priests and think, “Well, that’s cool for guys that are called to that, but it’s not me.”

His calling, he thought, was to be a doctor.

But his first year in the Bachelor of Science/Medical Degree program at Youngstown State University wasn’t going well.

For one, he never really liked science, though he figured he could get through it to become a doctor. “I was really struggling with it, compared with my classmates,” he says. “We were all good friends, but still, to see them sort of thrive and when you have to ask your buddy in lab, ‘Hey what’s a beaker?’ then maybe this is not for you.”

One cold February morning, he recalls, “The alarm clock just went off the same time it did every morning and the first thought that came to my mind when I woke up was, ‘Forget all this. I should go to seminary.’”

The idea wasn’t completely foreign. On a TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) retreat in high school, he had decided that wherever he felt called by God, he would go.

But to make sure he wasn’t just trying to get out of chemistry, he transferred to Bowling Green State University and got a degree in history.

He still wasn’t certain about seminary, though, until a seminarian, now Father Michael Zacharias, assured him it is a stage of discernment. “So . . . even though I didn’t know, I could go there and it would be OK either way.”

After he went to St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, Father McBeth says, “A big part of me was hoping I would be one of those guys that would stay a year or two and learn a lot and grow a lot, but ultimately then move on with life.”

However, he said “A bigger part was open to whatever . . .  If God said, ‘Well, this has been good for you, but this is not what you’re called to,” then I would say, ‘Fine.’ If God would say . . . ‘This is what you’re called to,’ then great.”

As for when he knew, Father McBeth says, “It’s not really that simple of a question because it takes a long time to really decide. From that time the alarm clock went off to when I got ordained was 10 years.”

Now that he is ordained, Father McBeth says what he loves most about being a priest is the community life in the parish, especially when everyone comes together at Sunday Masses. “Just being part of so many lives, it’s really a blessing.”

The hardest part, he says, is dealing with situations that test his resources. “It’s a humbling thing . . . A big part of me says I’m 28 years old, what do I know? And so in that sense it can be a challenge. I just try to rely on God’s grace to help me say something or be something that will be helpful.”

The flip side of being a 20-something priest is that he relates easily to young people. He has even surprised some by saying things like “What’s up, Dude” because they’re not expecting that from a priest. “As a younger person,” he says, “that’s just the way I talk.”

Father McBeth says it also has been challenging to work his prayer time in everyday. He tries to pray some of the Liturgy of the Hours before heading out for the day, because if he doesn’t, it may not happen.

To unwind, he works out at a gym a couple of times a week, plays the guitar, and gets together with friends like a group of fellow priests he dubbed the Fantastic Four while they were in seminary.

As someone who was ordained in the wake of a clergy scandal that wracked the Church in recent years, Father McBeth says his response is to be a good priest. “Ultimately, it’s about God and God’s call and God’s grace and God’s power, which is not what the world knows. It can be portrayed in the media one way, but knowing that God’s involved makes all the difference in the world . . . God still calls people to service for the Church . . . It’s a call that’s still very much needed.”


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